Five Things To Remember On Your First Day As A Leader
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The first day a leader assumes the office is always very special. The humble ones reflect on those that helped them get there, and the implausible string of events that led to their appointment. The arrogant ones are already planning their next step, and how to exact vengeance on those who bruised their egos, or hampered their rise to the corner office. The incompetent ones are terrified- reading up on the latest jargon, from sustainability to management, just to look the part.
But, there is one common theme that runs through all of these feelings– a sense of uneasiness. No manual can universally address the challenges that run through a leader’s mind during this period. Though the attitude of the workforce when it comes to accepting and emulating leadership traits has changed substantially over the last few years, what has not changed are the challenges.
Here are a few pointers to help you charter a course towards successful leadership:
1. Enter with confidence- but always be gracious In the first month, express gratitude to all who got you there, as well as those that will be in your team. Make sure you use the words “working with you,” and not “you’ll be working for me.” The initial view of you has to be that you listen more than you talk. You have already got the job, so don’t try to convince people that you belong anymore. In fact, it will work in your favor if you highlight that you are actually nervous, and that you need the team’s help to succeed.
2. Take immediate command of your ship Change the office dynamic early in your appointment– this includes simple things like rearranging the office structure, meeting dates, and report formats. The main reason for this, especially if you are following someone, is to help the rest of the organization know that there is a new leader. Be careful that you don’t trash your predecessor. That never works, and be vigilant to cut off those who do try to do just that. Make both functional and cosmetic changes to ensure that the change is visible.
3. Weed out the Machiavelli Take stock of your team– usually, you have an upcrop of sycophants, which are nice to have, but can feed your ego to the point of an obesity crisis. However, they are unlikely to cause issues. The most difficult challenge will come from those who desired your job and are very capable. Sometimes, the board or senior management forces these people onto you, and so you cannot fire them either. In my view, there is no room for error here– there are plenty of capable people out there. If you feel that you have to constantly look over your shoulder due to a member of your management team, you have to get rid of them.
4. Use success to define your legacy Focus on a tangible investment or progress that you can point to within a year, and within three years. Remember, legacies are defined by things people can see. You want your stakeholders to exclaim: “That plant you see, that company we own now, she built it, or he bought it.” That’s what you want. Of course, you also want the plant or the company you bought to make money!
5. Positivity only begets more positivity Finally, remember that you are the soul of your division or company. Be happy, and radiate that positive spirit. When you travel or meet people, a very important part of the job is for people to know you are happy. That starts from the time the doorman greets you, through to when the tea boy comes to your office, right up till the end of day. Don’t forget, everyone talks when they leave your office. So, if co-workers ask, “How was it?” You want the answer to be: “Always a pleasure.”